The Stone Bridge and Langley volleyball teams won their quarterfinal matches Tuesday night to advance to the Virginia AAA Final Four in Richmond, Va. this weekend. Northern Region champion Stone Bridge swept Albemarle, 25-16, 25-16, 25-14, in Ashburn, while regional runner-up Langley rallied to dispatch Patrick Henry, 25-27, 25-22, 25-20, 27-25, in Roanoke.
Results of Thursday’s semifinals were not available by press time.
Stone Bridge (27-2) traveled to the Siegel Center at VCU to face Atlee, a school outside Richmond that the Bulldogs last faced in the 2010 state semifinals. Stone Bridge won that match 3-0 before falling 3-1 in the state final against Floyd Kellam. The Bulldogs reached the state semifinals again last year, only to suffer another defeat against Floyd Kellam, which went on to win its second straight state championship.
Stone Bridge players are hoping those experiences will make them ready for the bright lights this time around.
“I think it’s just a mental thing,” Stone Bridge outside hitter and 2011 Northern Region player of the year Ryan Ackermann said. “If we see them again obviously we want to beat them. I think we have a really good chance this year. Now I know most of us have been there and seen it, so we know what to expect.”
Liberty District champion Langley (24-5) faced a tall task Thursday night against a red-hot Floyd Kellam team coming off a dominant 25-4, 25-9, 25-14 sweep against Lee-Davis in their quarterfinal game Tuesday.
If the two Northern Region teams advance to Saturday’s final, it will set up a rematch of last Saturday’s Northern Region championship that saw Stone Bridge beat back a Langley rally for a 25-18, 23-25, 26-24, 25-11 win.
“[The loss] was a little disappointing, but we fought hard in that second and third set, so I’m proud of them,” said Langley coach Susan Shifflett, whose team qualified for its first state tournament since 2009. “Second in the region is pretty good. We’re going to states, so hopefully we can work our way through and see them again.”
Not only did the victory give the Bulldogs a third consecutive regional crown, it also provided revenge for the five-set loss they endured against Langley in the regular season finale, a defeat that denied Stone Bridge an undefeated season.
“I think we just kept walking into the gym expecting to win, and then we got back on track to where we wanted to win and we were hungry to win,” Stone Bridge coach Jill Raschiatore said. “We knew we had to make things happen instead of just expecting people to give us the game. No one ever wants to lose, but I think if you’re going to lose, that was a good time to do it and get back on track.”